When two of the finest teams in the country face each other, fans expect fireworks. But when the two teams merge into one, it calls for doomsday for every other opponent in the nation. This is exactly what may happen in the foreseeable future for Indian basketball. Tamil Nadu were already the hottest team in Indian hoops after they won the Men's gold medal at the National Championship in Delhi back in March. Now, one of the most talented clubs in India - ONGC - has announced that it will be shifting base from Dehradun to Chennai, which means that Tamil Nadu will be boosted with all the ONGC players who had been representing the state of Uttarakhand until now.
|Photo Courtesy: Ekalavyas.com|
The Asian Age recently reported that ONGC - the 2014 Federation Cup champions - will be shifting both their strong basketball and volleyball teams to Chennai, bolstering the national champion Tamil Nadu sides in both squads. According to the report, the players have been ordered to report at the Chennai office on June 13.
Although no players have appeared on record, the report - written by C. Santhosh Kumar - quoted a key member of the ONGC basketball squad who said, "The [ONGC] management always wanted better exposure [for] its team and I reckon it's the reason behind shifting base to Chennai, where basketball and volleyball are more vibrant than Dehradun. Even though talks started a year ago, receiving the order on Tuesday evening was a big surprise."
"I understand that the ONGC board has approved the change of base," said L. Suren, Treasurer of the Tamil Nadu Basketball Association (TNBA), "If they come to Chennai, it will create more job opportunities for Tamil Nadu players and help develop the sport here."
But how soon could ONGC players start suiting up for Tamil Nadu? Rules state that a player must reside in a state for at least six months before being eligible to represent it. Suren added that, "in this case, apart from the residential status, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) can decide straightaway because the entire team will be moving from one place to another."
The Hindu today, some of ONGC's basketball players have expressed disappointment over the move from Dehradun to Chennai.
Via The Hindu
Speaking to The Hindu on Thursday, V.K. Mahendru, Head, Corporate Sports (New Delhi) said: “As far as volleyball is concerned we are hopeful that it will be in Chennai, but when it comes to basketball, we are yet to make a call. The final decision will be taken within 10-15 days. Whatever we do, we will do it in the best interest of the team.”
A senior basketball player said most of the players were not happy with the move.
He argued that, with Chennai being home to good teams such as IOB, ICF, Customs and Indian Bank, not many ONGC players will get the chance to represent Tamil Nadu.
“We have two cement courts in our residential colony (in Dehradun). Where will we now practice in Chennai? And the weather too is hot,” he said.
Another player said: “They’ve decided. We have no choice. We have got the orders to join duty in Chennai on June 13 after playing in an all-India tournament in Hyderabad.”
He said the Tamil Nadu team selection will now be tougher with so many good hoopsters.
“While Tamil Nadu basketball team will be very strong, other teams will not be so.”
You can only have 12 players in a team, and the presence of ONGC players fighting for their spot against other IOB/Tamil Nadu players should make for some fascinating competition in the state. Star players will be snubbed, but overall, it could make for one hell of a roster top to bottom for TN. They will become the Indian hoops version of a 'super-team'; and the pressure will be on rivals from Punjab, Services, or Indian Railways to step up a gear. The losers of his move will unfortunately be Uttarakhand, who will be left with little without the ONGC talent and could experience a major drop in national rankings next year.